Review: Honda CR-V (2002 – 2006)

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Low-down pull from refined chain cam engines. Walk-through cabin on CVT auto models. Large boot can be increased by sliding the rear seats forward. Lasting very well.

No diesel until 2005. Petrol more reliable than diesel. Original-fit Bridgestone tyres on 2.2 diesel wear quickly.

Honda CR-V (2002 – 2006): At A Glance

The RAV4 started the UK Sports Utility Vehicle thing back in June 1994. Then sprouted an extra pair of doors making it even more practical in June 1995. But the Honda CR-V was an honourable second onto the scene, beating the LandRover Freelander to the market by 6 months in June 1997, and coming in at £2,000 cheaper. It caught the public imagination of what a family car should really be, was an instant hit, and has remained so ever since.

There have been many other more recent pretenders to the throne. Most notably the excellent Nissan X-Trail, which is much better off road. More recently, the Mitsubishi Outlander sneaked onto the scene. While Hyundai and KIA surprised everyone with the grippy handling Tucson and Sportage. Ford/Mazda had a go too with the all-independent Maverick II/Tribute. Imagewise at least, the current Jeep Cherokee is also a contender. While the bigger Hyundai Santa Fe, KIA Sportage, Hyundai Terracan and Ssangyong Rexton are all in the same price range.

Honda went back to the drawing board and launched the current shape CR-V in early 2002. And now, using the opportunity of its new 2.2 litre diesel engine, has refreshed that design for 2005.

Outside it has a new front grille, new headlamps, new pedestrian friendly front bumper and new wheel-arch protectors. Inside, there are improvements to the instruments and trim. And underneath the suspension has been sorted out to give better handling.

Honda CR-V 2002 Road Test

Honda CR-V 2.2 i-CTDi 2005 Road Test 

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What does a Honda CR-V (2002 – 2006) cost?

List Price from £26,940
Buy new from £23,734
Contract hire from £223.34 per month

Honda CR-V (2002 – 2006): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4615–4635 mm
Width 1785 mm
Height 1710 mm
Wheelbase 2630 mm

Full specifications

The rear seats still get up to all sorts of tricks, reclining or sliding backwards and forwards to give 527-628 litres of loadspace behind them, or folding up, headrests still in place, to free up 952 litres. Safety hasn't taken a back seat either because all three rear seats have proper three-point safety belts.

And, with its new ultra-stiff body shell, Honda got a four-star result in the NCAP crash tests, together with the three stars for pedestrian safety which isn't only the best for any CRV, it isn't beaten by any saloon cars. This is the exception that makes nonsense of the case against 4x4 SUVs in towns. With its low CO2 output of 177g/km, its decent economy of 42.2mpg and its reasonably low weight of 1,631kg it is actually far more city and pedestrian friendly than most ordinary cars.

As you'd expect in a vehicle of this type, there are cupholders and cubby holes all over the place. Between the front seats is a folding table with indentations for everything from a Biro to a Burger King. They haven't forgotten the boot floor that turns into a picnic table either, and that's bigger now at 861mm x 760mm.

Child seats that fit a Honda CR-V (2002 – 2006)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Honda CR-V (2002 – 2006) like to drive?

Both petrol and diesel engines are reliable chain-cam. The 2.0 petrol, as also used in the Accord and FR-V, remains superbly sweet. But the big news is the 2.2 i-CDTi for which we have been waiting more than a year.

It's a little bit noisier in the CR-V than in the Accord. And, just as it does in the Accord, it whistles. But it gives a very pleasant, smooth drive with no sudden turbo catapult effect and relaxed cruising at 30mph per 1,000 rpm in 6th. That's reasonable gearing for towing a caravan up to 1,386kg, which is 85% of the car's kerb weight. Honda sets the limit slightly higher at 1,500kg.

Handling is definitely better than it was with far less roll understeer. It's about equal to an X-Trail now, though still not as good overall as a RAV4, nor as grippy at the front as the Hyundai Tucson and KIA Sportage. But I'm talking here of extreme handling. It's very pleasant to drive, and that's the criterion by which most people will rate it.

Under the flat floor, Honda's hydraulic Dual Pump four-wheel-drive system has been improved with an additional one-way ball cam and pilot clutch system that detects slippage and responds by transmitting drive to the rear wheels instantly. This works very well in wet grass, mud and snow, and also in the wet on mountain hairpins where the rear wheels clutch in and counteract understeer by pushing the car around the corner without it scrabbling for grip.

Compared to the X-Trail 2.2DI. the RAV4 D-4D and the Freelander TD4, the CR-V 2.2 i-CDTi is more powerful, accelerates slightly better, is slightly faster, is more economical and emits less CO2, so it makes a very good case for itself.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.0 i-VTEC 31 mpg 10.8 s 215 g/km
2.2 i-CTDi 42 mpg 10.6 s 177 g/km

Real MPG average for a Honda CR-V (2002 – 2006)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

21–50 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Honda CR-V (2002 – 2006)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Is a lit engine warning light an MoT failure?

I have a 2003 Honda CR-V petrol auto, which has covered 170,000 miles. For the past two years the engine management light has been lit an increasing amount, and for some months is permanently on whilst driving. I have had this checked several times at my local garage, who have found various error codes, but no consistent fault, so no remedial work has been done. Will the car fail its next MOT because of this?
The engine warning light is usually Major failure point on the MoT, but some older cars are exempt from this rule. For example, diesels that were registered before 1 July 2008 and petrols that were registered before 1 July 2003 are exempt from this part of the MoT test.
Answered by Dan Powell
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What do owners think?

Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.

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  • 4 star 17%
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